Getting back to good
We started out playing and  absorbing all of the wonders of this world.
What happened? 

Brain  superSTARS​ program

Kids of all ages can be taught how to Stop, Take a deep breath, and Reset their nervous systems by Sensing their physical safety, to get "back to good" in times of mental stress.

An optimal nervous system allows us all to make the best possible decisions and have our brains primed for learning. I think the the perfect age to understand the complex brain science and  the greatest need for obtaining these skills is in 4th and 5th grade, right before beginning middle school years when so many emotional/social changes happen and can be so difficult for so many kids (and their parents). I teach about the "baby brain" in the center of our brains that is less evolved and acts to keep us safe by alarming our bodies via our nervous systems to danger. When Amy (nickname for the amygdala) sends stress hormones to the body to fight or flee it does so because it "thinks" we are in physical danger (running from a tiger). When active- the rest of the brain is less active- especially the "smart brain" which is responsible for complex decision making. So when we are not in "physical danger" and instead enduring mental stress, Amy does not know the difference- so the same process occurs and impedes our "smart brain" (which is why we might say things we later regret or kick or punch something of value to us). 

But we don't HAVE to always react this way.We have a choice. We can choose where to put our attention at any given moment. It's kind of like a SUPERPOWER, because it's simple but not easy to lead instead of be led, and it takes practice. 

When Amy hijacks our body for danger but we are not in REAL danger we can change the course of our default settings by not blindly reacting (like babies). Instead we can be brain superSTARS by stopping and noticing the reaction and choosing to SHOW Amy that we ARE truly physically safe. We can't tell her- she is in the "baby brain" that does not understand the outer cortex- more evolved "smart brain". So we have show her. How can we do that? Well, by tuning in to our surroundings, by physically directing the attention away from the stress reaction and into sensing how our body and brain is perceiving (in the 5 senses) the real world around us.  

It's not easy to do this when we feel so drawn to reacting to the discourse in our bodies with fighting (physical or words- outloud or in our heads). Also, when tuning in to how our bodies feel in the present moment, and a stress reaction is going on, it can be very uncomfotable. So to be able to shape our brains to make directing our attention easier, we must practice.  Practice is mindfulness- being aware of the present moment (sensing our surroundings and our body in that space) by directing our attention to it. This includes being non judgemental- so resisting attention staying in the default thoughts about the experience we are having and re-focusing on the actual sensations of the experience. Practicing it daily becomes easy, because there are opportunities to practice at every moment :) We just need to remember to do it and then do it. And when we can do it in "regular" moments of our lives, then when that stressful moment comes we will be armed and ready. And then, when our nervous systems are reset, that is when energy is restored to its steady, resting state, we are free to use our "smart brains" without any disturbances and that is when navigating complex problems or absorbing new information can occur at our optimal potential.


Brain super STARs acronym


S: STOP
T: Take a deep breath 
:Amy- remember Amy (the nick name I gave the amygdala in charge of flight or flight response) is activated
R: Reset your nervous system by
S: Sensing your surroundings and your body in space (using mindfulness) to let Amy know you are safe